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New York Prepares to Host Republican National Convention - 2004-05-21

The Republican National Convention, which will be held in New York City, is now 100 days away. Officials are downplaying concerns about security and the high costs associated with the event.

President Bush will officially receive his party's nomination for president during the Republican National Convention.

Officials say about 50,000 visitors are expected to arrive in New York City for the event, which will take place August 30-September 2. The convention will be held near the center of New York City, which is still recovering from the enormous costs associated with the World Trade Center terror attacks nearly three years ago.

The head of the New York City host committee, Kevin Sheekey, says the event will be yet another step in reviving the local economy.

"This convention will be important for this city for a week this summer because it will signify our turnaround from our most recent recession," he said. "This will be the shortest of the last three recessions New York City has seen. Our tourism economy is back, our fiscal economy is back, Wall Street is back, tourists are back, Broadway is back."

But some New Yorkers are concerned that the costs associated with providing security for the event are too high. The New York City Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, has estimated the total cost at around $76 million, up from the $27 million the New York City mayor estimated just a few months ago. The federal government is providing about a third of the money, but the convention won't contribute to the security costs, leaving tens-of-millions of dollars to be paid by New York City.

Up to 10,000 police officers will provide security for the convention. Many are receiving training in handling chemical or biological attacks. Officers are also being trained in transportation safety and crowd control. At least one major protest is already planned for the day before the event.

The man in charge of staging the Republican Convention, Bill Harris, says he expects plenty of demonstrations.

"We believe in the constitution of the United States, we believe in the right of people to exercise their right to free speech, and as long as we can proceed in our business in a safe and orderly manner, people are free to say whatever they want to say," he said.

Mr. Harris also says he is confident that the New York City Police Department will be able to take charge of security for the event. Boston, which is hosting the Democratic National Convention in late July, is receiving the same amount of federal funding as New York City.